There are already more than 117,000 patients treated in our country since the Strategic Plan for the Treatment of Hepatitis C was launched in Spain in 2015, being the European leader in this aspect. Although in the first phase the Plan established a high priority for the treatment of patients with advanced hepatic fibrosis and patients on the waiting list, special emphasis is now being placed on the early diagnosis and subsequent treatment of all persons who are infected with the disease. Hepatitis C virus, regardless of its stage.
During the HEPYCURE day: From the Healing to the Elimination of Hepatitis held in Madrid, medical experts, nurses, patient associations, health administrations and NGOs highlighted the importance of prioritizing the identification of undiagnosed patients and continuing the rhythm of treatment of these last years. The experts consider that there are about 150,000 patients left to diagnose and treat in Spain, so it would be advisable to implement screening policies, as well as multidisciplinary coordination between the different levels of care (specialized care, primary, addictions, prisons, etc.) . In addition, it was recalled that hepatitis C can be cured with simple and well tolerated treatments, reaching cure rates of more than 98%.
One of the challenges that the Plan proposes at present is the elimination of the virus in the inmate population. The most recent data indicate that the prevalence of the disease in this area is around 14.8% in prisons administered by the Ministry of the Interior. It is therefore vital to detect and treat patients with the virus in time and thus avoid new infections.
In addition, examples of micro-elimination in addiction centers and primary care were also shared. In the words of Juan Turnes, head of digestive service at the Montecelo Hospital in Pontevedra: “it is necessary to have access to the groups with the highest prevalence of the disease. These patients do not go to the public health system because they are sometimes in situations of marginality, and they are not adherent to the therapeutic guidelines that require coming to the hospital frequently. The achievement of micro-elimination in our society is a great effort of professionals, patient associations and NGOs that is achieving very encouraging results. ”
During the meeting the participants acknowledged the effort made in recent years, but warned of the importance of continuing to raise awareness among the population about the need to identify and treat all patients with hepatitis C. “One of the priorities in the elimination of Hepatitis C is for administrations to take a step forward. Aragon and Cantabria have already done so in the last weeks with their own regional plans to eliminate the disease. We hope that soon more communities will join and can be coordinated nationally as was done with the Strategic Plan for the Treatment of Hepatitis C. In this way, we could achieve the elimination of pathology at the state level, “explained Turnes.